Wednesday, November 21, 2012

This Land is Mine


Nina Paley is a remarkably productive artist who resided for a time in Santa Cruz, CA where she published a comic strip in a local print weekly and created the Cruzio Cat logo for, the local ISP that happens to host my email. Her best-known work is a full-length animated version of the Indian classic Ramayama tale entitled Sita Sings the Blues.

Paley is currently working on an animated version of the Exodus story--working title Sader-Masochism--of which one part is fully animated and viewable on Vimeo. This Land is Mine is Nina's capsule history of the Middle-East territory known as Canaan, the Levant, and Palestine/Israel--a delightful account, entertaining, I imagine, even to passionate Israel-firster Alan Dershowitz. View it here. For more information about Nina and the numerous actors in her territorial cartoon see her blog.

Nina has also produced a short ecology video entitled Stork which without a single word surpasses anything that the Sierra Club or Planned Parenthood has ever come up with.

Quantum Tantra hats off to Nina Paley--an artistic genius!

Nina Paley--animator extraordinaire!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Amber Waves of Grain

Veterans Day 2012

O beautiful for spacious skies
For amber waves of grain.
         --America the Beautiful (Kathanne Lee Bates)

I have never been in the military but my younger brother, Duke, served as a Marine, and we two Ohio boys were raised to believe in the importance of patriotism and the essential role our soldiers play in defending our country. On Veteran's Day 2012 we rightly honor those soldiers who served our country not merely by paying taxes but by risking their physical bodies for the sake of America and its values.

Most American soldiers believe they are serving their country by fighting its wars but some soldiers have a different opinion, for instance, my friend Reno DeCaro, a veteran of the US Marine's elite Force Recon Division, who writes:

Reno: The sad news is that there is not a veteran alive who has served this country, regardless if this was his intention—look up patriot Pat Tillman---or if he was aware of it or not. What our guys in the military have served, and are still serving, is special interest groups and their bought representatives, i.e., elected officials. The agenda of those elected leaders only serves the welfare of the American people if, by chance, America's welfare happens to overlap with the welfare of some special interest group that brought our leaders into power.

Yes, I’m a veteran, a veteran of close to five years of service with the US Marine Corps and have five more years working for the US Army in a civilian capacity. I feel I have more right to speak about veterans than the draft dodgers and others who never dreamed of joining the military, but call themselves “commander in chief” or "advisers" to the commander in chief.

In addition to courage and love of country, I was given a brain and life experience to see through the “racket” that is sold to the American people in the form of patriotism. Major General Smedley Butler, one of the Marine Corps great war heroes, wrote a book called War is a Racket after more than 30 years of service with the Marines. 

General Butler: “War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses. I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we'll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag. I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket. “

Reno: This country has been involved in more wars all over the world--some euphemistically called "military actions"--than any other country during the last hundred years. Every four years we elect someone who is willing to continue the racket of his predecessor. Sometimes he even receives a Nobel Peace Prize while waging war, approving institutionalized torture of people 10,000 miles away who are no threat to us, while limiting the personal freedom of Americans.

Unless you believe third-world cavemen with AK 47’s, RPG’s and IED’s are a threat to America, there is no reason for us to fight in Afghanistan killing tens of thousands of innocents while ruining the lives of tens of thousands of the best of our own people. The war in Iraq was something we were lied into, killed hundreds of thousands of people and did not benefit a single American not heavily invested in defense corporations.

Bringing our troops home to protect our borders from criminals crossing illegally en masse from a country with the highest crime rate in the world, while millions of illegals immigrating are putting stress on our social-service network is what would be in the interest of the American people. Which candidate capable of getting elected or which mass media outlet even raised that issue during any elections? None!

Every election is about “Hope and Change”. Nothing that is hoped for ever happens and the change is always for the worse as it affects the majority of Americans. This is not about Republicans or Democrats but about America's massively corrupt system of governance.
Nick: While I do not possess ex-Marine DeCaro's experience in the military, I do share his belief that patriotism--love of country and the willingness to fight to defend that country--is a most admirable human virtue. So how should we judge those who would exploit this most noble of virtues for ignoble ends?

Are not those men, hiding safely behind their desks while talking of "defending our freedoms" by putting American soldiers in harm's way for the sake of doubling some executive's million-dollar bonuses, the very opposite of patriots? Aren't they, rather, abusers of true patriotism for ends which only benefit a few and do not benefit our country as a whole?

This exploitation of a noble virtue for ignoble ends is a foul crime and deserves a new name, for which I suggest, in analogy to a similarly vile violation of human innocence, the term "patriot molestation".

When the next "military action" is proposed, or for that matter many of our present conflicts, every thoughtful American should ask (especially those who actually have to risk their lives): "Is this action truly in the service of my country, or is this just another case of patriot molestation?"

Reno: Don’t buy into the same lies we were told during Vietnam. “If we don’t fight them there we will have to fight them here.” Once we left the Vietnamese alone and went home they had no interest, nor the ability to fight us. The hundreds of billions a year of our tax dollars wasted to bomb people living in caves back to the Stone Age, and to bribe their leaders to pretend to like what we are doing there, could certainly be spent more wisely by funding jobs to rebuild America.

The same applies to the Iraqi wars and every conflict we have been involved in. The Kaiser posed no threat to the US in WW1, Hitler did not have the means to invade England, never mind America during WW2---Japan was economically and politically forced into a first strike that was known to Roosevelt days in advance. There was no domino effect of communism after we withdrew from Vietnam; Cuba has not harmed us after the Bay of Pigs fiasco and the list goes on.  All lies to motivate the good people of the country to risk their lives to enrich a few.

After two Iraqi wars and an eleven-year war against Afghanistan, America the beautiful is nearly bankrupt but the number of its billionaires has doubled.

Who could argue against those historical facts without lying? And if these facts are correct, why should any patriot--someone who has the true interest of the American people at heart--allow his noble feeling of wanting to protect his country to be abused? Abused by those who profit without fighting. Abused by some patriot molester sitting safely behind a desk.

No one has better expressed the evil of exploiting the noble virtue of patriotism for ignoble ends than Rudyard Kipling who wrote, concerning the real motives behind World War 1, these famous lines:

If any question why we died,
Tell them, because our fathers lied.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Big Swirl

Superposition of +10 OAM plus -10 OAM

Quantum mechanics is usually perceived as the (somewhat bizarre) physics of the very small, while large objects obey the logic of common sense. One of the most exciting trends in modern physics is the attempt to create larger and larger objects that obey quantum rules and hence to quietly smuggle the weirdness of quantum reality into the realm of everyday life.

Recently Robert Fickler and his colleagues at the University Of Vienna have devised a clever experiment that expands the realm of quantum entanglement into the region of high quantum numbers by devising a scheme that entangles two photons with arbitrarily high values of "orbital angular momentum (OAM)"-- a quantity I will call "swirl".

Every photon has an intrinsic spin equal to one Planck unit. Most experiments in quantum entanglement operate by using special non-linear crystals to produce a pair of photons in which this spin degree of freedom is divided between the two photons in such a way that each photon is in an uncertain spin state but the spin of the larger two-photon state is quantum-determined. This leads to the unusual situation (characteristic of quantum entanglement) that no matter how distant the two photons are separated, they in some sense still form a single entity so that an action on one photon seems to instantly influence the properties of the other. One might imagine that this instant influence could be used to send faster-than-light signals and hence break the well-known Einstein speed limit but quantum theory possesses a subtle structure that allows Nature access to this superluminal channel while denying it to human beings.

Fickler and his friends start with the usual pair of photons entangled in spin-one space and by clever use of a Spatial Light Modulator (SLM) -- a liquid-crystal device not too different from the gadget that is producing this image on your flat screen -- they can add to each photon a lot of "swirl" beginning with 10 spin units (shown above) and working their way up to successfully entangling two photons each possessing 300 units of swirl. The amount of swirl they can add to the photons is limited not by the laws of physics but by the pixel density of their Spatial Light Modulator so with better technology much larger values of "swirl" than 300 can be entangled.

Using their current setup, Fickler and company conveniently produce not just a photon with a big swirl of 300 but a photon that exists in a superposition of 300 units of clockwise swirl plus 300 units of counterclockwise swirl -- a situation I have elsewhere called "Schrödinger's Carousel".  And this (300/-300) swirled photon is quantum-entangled with a similar high-swirl photon which can be located many meters away.

However clever this achievement, a swirl of only 300 units is still much too small to be perceived by human senses. But there is an analogous phenomenon created by lots of tiny aligned spins (much more than 300) called magnetism which might someday be coaxed to produce bizarre quantum phenomena perceivable by humans.

For me one of the most elegant experiments that connects the micro-world with the macro-world is the Einstein-de Haas Effect. If you suspend a magnet on a string and demagnetize it by heating, the magnet magically begins to rotate without the application of any force. This mysterious rotation is explained by the fact that magnetism is the result of an immense number of electrons whose spins (one unit each of AM) are all aligned in the same direction. When the magnet is heated, the direction of these spins is randomized. The overall rotation is still conserved however, and is transferred from the electrons to the crystal lattice and hence the whole magnet begins to spin.

Learning how to entangle big swirls is starting in Austria with pairs of photons but perhaps, using quantum entanglement, magnets, which are already remarkable things, may someday be transformed into macroscopic quantum objects that will behave in ways that seem truly miraculous.

On another note, I've just discovered how to add a "favicon" to the URL line of my blog, and after experimenting with many complex images, have decided to use this simple "white portal" on a purple background to symbolize my quantum tantric quest to discover radically new "doorways into Nature"

New doorway into Nature?

ADDENDUM: My younger brother Duke, an ex-Marine now living in Montana, suggested THIS as a candidate image for "doorway into Nature."

Brother Duke's old doorway into Nature